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Demolished law society house raises land grab claims

By Andante Okanya

Added 27th February 2020 04:20 PM

The contention is a subject of debate amongst lawyers, with claims that ULS has not fully secured ownership rights.

Demolished law society house raises land grab claims

Peter Kinobe, the President Uganda Law Society during launching of Open Justice, A closed or open Reality for Uganda’s Media .This was at Hotel Africana on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Abbey Ramadhan)

The contention is a subject of debate amongst lawyers, with claims that ULS has not fully secured ownership rights.

KAMPALA - A section of lawyers say premature demolition of the fraternity body buildings in Kololo has exposed it to land grab.
 
Uganda Law Society (ULS) intends to construct its sh13b headquarters on the land, located on Plot 5 A, John Babiiha (Former Acacia Avenue), in the upscale city suburb.
 
The contention is a subject of debate amongst lawyers, with claims that ULS has not fully secured ownership rights over the land, measuring 25 decimals (a quarter of an acre).
 
However, the aggrieved are questioning whether the ULS Executive Council (EXCO) approved the demolition.
 
Another sticky issue is who authorised demolition, who authorised rent at the current premises in the city suburb of Ntinda, and the source of the rent money, which they insist was not budgeted for.
 
Last week, ULS Treasurer Aaron Besigye, also a member of the EXCO, told New Vision that ULS was in total possession of the land.
 
"The plot is ours and nobody can take it. We have finalised the procurement process of the contractor, so no worries," explained Besigye.
 
He referred New Vision to ULS President Simon Peter Kinobe, for a detailed explanation.
 
Kinobe says demolished buildings a health risk
 
He emphasised that EXCO was compelled to demolish the buildings, as they had become a health hazard.
 
The ULS supremo explained that it was within the mandate of EXCO to move decisively and act in the best interest of ULS. He said it was inevitable that spacious and appropriate office space had to immediately be secured.
 
"It was condemned and it started to leak. Bits of the buildings had started falling off. So, as ULS President, I did not have to wait for people to get injured. I had to act swiftly. The buildings had become unusable," said Kinobe.  
 
The ULS supremo explained that the tedious procurement process, and all the loose ends, had to first be tied and completed.
 
He said initially, ULS used the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority(PPDA) rules but realised figures had been inflated by 60% of the bill.
 
Kinobe stated that subsequently, the EXCO adopted private sourcing and that obligations have been finalised. He noted that the biggest impediment is finances since the commitments made are yet to be realised.
 
"We have a contractor now and contracts have been signed. Now the challenge is money. Pledges are yet to be fulfilled. We have 3,500 subscribed members. What we have is sh2b," said Kinobe.
 
He noted that President Yoweri Museveni's sh5b pledge was soon to be delivered. Kinobe said ULS was given assurance that the funds from the Head of State, were soon to be disbursed.
 
The ULS boss remarked that the contractor had given ULS a certificate of construction. Kinobe said when all is set, a commencement order will be issued.
 
The fraternity body has since shifted and is conducting its operations at Buye- Ntinda off, Ntinda - Kisaasi road, Kampala.
 
On land ownership
The ULS President observed that the process was almost complete to convert the land from residential to commercial. He noted that as a statutory body, ULS has requested KCCA to fast track the process of converting the land to freehold, from leasehold.
 
About ULS House
Kinobe noted that the five-storey premises will have two basement floors for vehicle parking. It will accommodate the ULS head office, and also have a legal clinic. Upon commencement of construction, it is expected to be completed in two years. 

 

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